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Our Children Deserve Religious Freedom

I was raised as a Roman Catholic and was taught that our religion was the only correct religion on Earth and that all other religions were wrong. As a child I accepted this, but as an adult, I reject it.

Most of us have strong religious beliefs which we want to share with our children. We may be Catholic, Evangelical, Muslim or even Atheist. Because we love our children and because we feel in our own mind that our beliefs are correct, we want to share those beliefs with our children. That's alright, but we must keep in mind the rights and freedoms of our children and recognize this child is an individual who may not share our every opinion. In fairness to the child, we have to respect this right and give him the opportunity to make his own choice at some point in time. We should explain our views to him, and encourage him to investigate the subject on his own, if he wishes to do so. And, most importantly, if he makes a decision which does not agree with ours, we must respect that decision. Aside from the fact that this is the right thing to do for the child, it is also a critical factor in allowing him to grow up in a more peaceful world.

The war on terror and the war in Iraq amply demonstrate this need. When we see the growing animosities in our own country between the religiously devout and the secular part of society, we see even more danger signs. There is no doubt that religion has done a lot of good for society. Many of the poor in our nation would be left far behind if it were not for the generous charity of people with strong religious convictions. On the flip side of the coin, however, history is full of examples of the major part that religious fanaticism has played in the evil done in this world. We see the results of Muslim extremism in Iraq, but let's also look at the evil done by Christianity, Mormons, Buddhists and even Atheists. Extremism is evil, regardless of which belief it represents.

The war in Iraq cannot be won militarily. It is doubtful it can be even be won by diplomacy. Only one thing can win this war - education. Religion today has a choice. We can teach love and understanding of our fellow man, along with a respect for their beliefs, or we can try to impose our own beliefs on those who feel differently. We can make this a better world, or we can destroy it.

Ron Coleman is a freelance cartoonist and writer whose work has appeared in hundreds of magazines and trade journals. He maintains several cartoon websites and you can see more of his work on his own website: http://www.coleman-cartoons.com

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